It only takes one summer weekend in Tel Aviv to understand that Saturday picnics are not just an outing, they’re a lifestyle. Save your boozy brunch money for a good ol’ fashion Yogi Bear style picnic in Park Hayarkon, (though the red and white checkered blanket may be slightly more elephant-printed from the Carmel Market). If you’re a fan of those nostalgic lunches that give a whole new meaning to the word 'sand'-wich, head to one of Tel Aviv’s beaches for an ocean-side bite. And when all that homemade food makes you sleepy, it’s time for a quick catnap before continuing the outdoor fun at one of the best outdoor patios or rooftop bars in Tel Aviv.
The best parks and beaches to bring a picnic
New York has Central Park, London has Hyde Park, and Tel Aviv has it’s very own Hayarkon Park. The popular green lung (also known as Ganei Yehoshua Park) is nestled in the north of the city with the Yarkon River running through it. Swathes of joggers, cyclists, dog walkers and young mothers taking a stroll, pack the park every day, making it come alive with its own unique personality. Pitch a spot on the grass and spend the day basking in the sun while watching the beautiful people of Tel Aviv go by – something we definitely recommend. But if you’re up for something a little more adventurous, this urban park has plenty on offer for nature lovers right through to extreme sports enthusiasts. Tucked away in the eastern part of the park lies one its biggest surprises – a Rock Garden hosting over 3,500 species of plants, including a massive area dedicated solely to cacti, interspersed among different rock formations. Just across from the Rock Garden is a five-acre Tropical Garden full of palm trees, orchids and vines as well as a lake full of fish. Not far away, also on the east side of the park, is a bird safari known as Tsipari, set in lush gardens with a beautiful mini-lake, as well as a petting zoo, a bird sanctuary, and a large soft play area for kids complete with a climbing apparatus.
The Charles Clore Garden perfectly complements Tel Aviv’s shoreline. After undergoing a two-year renovation, this seaside park has it all. The green lawns juxtaposed with the sand and sea make it a beautiful place to spend an afternoon. Spread over 30 acres, the park, named after the British Jewish philanthropist who originally established it in the 1970s, is located just south of the Dolphinarium and stretches until Jaffa. It also makes for the perfect getaway for beach-going families who are sick of the sand or matkot (lethal Israeli beach game involving paddles and speeding balls). The park has a great playground apparatus that includes a rope pyramid and has fountains that jet forth from the concrete that kids – and adults – love to dart around in. While the kids are splashing around, Mom and Dad can also exercise at the yoga platform or on one of the “machines” in the outdoor gym. The park is also decked out with barbecue areas. If you fancy injecting a little culture into the day have a wander round the park’s sculpture garden which includes work by renowned Israeli artist and sculptor, Ilana Goor. Alternatively, you can always pay a visit to The Etzel Museum located in the south area of the park near Alma beach. The museum features one of the three military organizations that led Israel to independence.
When the Tel Aviv municipality decided to built the Kiryat Sefer park in the heart of the city, instead of building another housing complex, the people living in the area could finally take a breath of fresh air...literally. The park, a green lung in the middle of one of the most densely populated area of the city, was something the neighbors around were waiting for for a long time. Today, the park is filled with happy kids running around the playground and grassy area. There are fish pools, an outdoor gym, and even a dog park next door. Kiryat Sefer Park is the perfect place to escape to when looking for a moment of peace in the center of Tel Aviv.
The Ajami Beach neighborhood just south of Old Jaffa is a charming escape from Tel Aviv. The stairway-alleys leading down to the beach as well as the Maronic Church offer visitors a historic view of a now-modern beach community. To complete your journey at Ajami Beach, be sure to stop by the famous Abu Hassan for some unbelievable hummus, guaranteed to give you the energy to keep exploring
Independence park has been known for many years as one of the hottest places in the city for gay cruising after dark. But during the day, it is actually one of the most beautiful spots in the city, high on the hill overlooking the Mediterranean. Nested on the coastline between the Hilton and the Carlton hotels, Independence Park is known as a good spot for sports lovers, a location where families come to celebrate birthdays on Saturdays, and just a great place to escape the hot sun and lay under a tree.